The old saying is “anything that works gets taken off the market” and that’s just a part of this ever evolving industry. Stimulants are public enemy #1 when it comes to the FDA and their policies. Whether anyone is getting sick or dying is not really the issue, the FDA takes a conservative approach to stimulants which means if they deem something to be potentially risky, they usually want that supplement off the market.
We all love stimulants before our workout (no, this doesn’t include running 20 miles in the desert heat) so we can use what’s left to power through our tough workouts without horrific risk to our bodies.
These ingredients were deemed risky or illegal and have been removed from the market for now:
- Ephedrine – first there was ephedrine, which was a synthetic version of the plant based stimulant “ephedra”. Ephedra was a popular plant that started out as a raw herb then progressed to being concentrated for the active alkaloids and finally ended up with a synthetic equivalent called ephedrine HCL. This entire ingredient profile, herb and synthetic was banned in 2004 for being too dangerous to keep on the market.
- DMAA – this ingredient came out under many different names. First there was “Geranamine” which was a trade name by Ergo-Pharm LLC. Then it was called 4-amino-methylhexane which fell out of favor and finally it was called 1,3-dimethylamylamine. With people called “1,3 Dimethyl” or “DMAA”. This ingredient is a weaker stimulant but still had a different “feel” to it which gave some people euphoria and focus.
- Theophylline – this ingredient is found naturally in tea and other herbs. It is a prescription asthma medication that shouldn’t have ever been sold as a dietary ingredient. Most vendors voluntarily pull this from their ingredients once they realize their errors.
- AMP Citrate – this was a favorite stimulant among many users, but it was found to be illegal by the FDA and removed from the market. Once touted as the DMAA replacement, AMP citrate is all but gone from the market because it’s not naturally occurring.
The removal of these three “ingredients” from the marketplace has left us with plenty of other options for stimulants.
- Caffeine – the worlds oldest and best studied stimulant was left alone but the FDA has taken caffeine powder off the market (after one man died in the UK). Caffeine has about a 5 hour stimulant window and is very popular obviously.
- Synephrine – discovered about 1997 this stimulant isn’t great for fat loss, but it is good for getting you up and moving. It’s got about half the active time of caffeine (2 vs 4 hours) and can provide a nice crash free lift in energy.
- Methyl-Synephrine – once the target of FDA enforcement, this naturally occurring plant extract is found to be a stronger cousin to synephrine but less potent than synephrine. It’s got similar pharmokinetics which means it lasts about 2 hours.
- DMBA – these two isomers are a less potent cousin than DMAA and needs about twice the active dose. Many people feel that these two are about the same as DMAA when dosed properly without as much of a crash.
- Yohimbine – this stimulant can cause anxiety in some people but is a great fat loss agent with some CNS stimulant properties. Yohimbine has become a stable in most diet pills and preworkouts.
- A-Yohimbine – the less potent cousin to yohimbine is better at fat burning and not as good a stimulant.
- PEA – these are a category of derivatives that increase phenylethylamine, which are the body’s natural feel good chemicals. There are many of them b-PEA, PEA, N-Methyl-PEA but they are all quickly metabolized by the body (MAO) which means that they need a MAOi like hordinine to make them active.
- Halostachine – this chemical cousin to ephedrine never really made it as a supplement. It seems to be rapidly cleared and needs doses of 60-75mg to be effective. This one looked great on paper but didn’t pan out in real life.
- Theobromine – a chemical cousin to caffeine, this one doesn’t provide much in the way of stimulation but it may boost mood and energy.
That’s a pretty comprehensive list of the stimulants left on the market. While some heavy hitters have been banned and removed from the market, there are still some great stimulants on the market.
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